Archive for October, 2011

A Family Gets Together

Things have been happening left and right, but the most memorable happened last Wednesday. I sincerely mean it when I say it was one of the best nights of my life.

Avec was closed for regular service that Wednesday due to a buyout. Some company wanted our time and services for the night and were apparently willing to pay a massive amount of money to do so, and so we’d known about the event for a couple of weeks now, with Armanzo, Elliot, Katie and I working it. It was just that until I came into work that day, I didn’t know what to expect. The guests were coming in at 5, but I was scheduled to come in at 2; did that mean we’d still prep a little for tomorrow? How much of our stations should we set up? How much food will 40 people eat? And so on. But Armanzo and Elliot had at least already decided how much food to put out and that was a start. Now it was all a matter of getting some food prepped out (toasting fideo, pre-filling cazuelas, etc.) and some food to start a la minute (searing off steaks, roasting fish, cooking pasta).

It ended up being hands down one of the easiest nights ever. The boys and Katie upstairs on the line and me downstairs putting things away and setting up shoulder, etc. Everyone was happy (except I was a little dismayed that hardly anyone touched the salumi boards I’d put out earlier. That’s a lot of sliced meat that could’ve gone to a better cause ;_;… oh well, no use crying over that sliced meat now), and better still, since it ended so early (10:30pm) we all were going out to the Pump Room for dinner!

I’d heard of the Pump Room but didn’t really know much about it. I should’ve guessed something was up when Armanzo came out all changed and looking muy suave, with Italian shoes and a dress shirt and not his usual garb of cap/tee/sneakers, while Elliot was shining up his boots. All I can say is thank goodness I’d decided to wear a skirt that day and not my jeans and Chucks because when we got out of the cab and stood in front of the Public Hotel and I saw the (suave-looking) valets… I knew I’d entered a different world entirely. I suppressed the urge to run away (and come back with a Prada dress or something) and steeled myself by telling myself that class is carriage and a state of mind.

We ordered a bunch of starters and cocktails and once the staff found out we were from Avec, started throwing food our way. The food was fine (the tuna tartare and beet salad were good; I liked the crab toast; others needed more salt/acid). At some point, newest hire Paula seemingly crashed the party which silently freaked out Elliot enough to text Marcus to join the outing (it was actually Katie who had informed Paula of our whereabouts). Whatever, it was probably a good thing we had so many people because we had a lot of food at out table.
But the food wasn’t the highlight of the night. It was the people I was with and the experience of it all that will forever stay a great memory for me. Gathered round the table were people I love/respect/admire and the fact that I could bond with them outside of work thrilled me. Getting to talk with Katie since we have little opportunity to do so was awesome, as was silently marveling that Armanzo was looking a lot more like Ryan Gosling when he dolls up. I would sneak glances at Elliot’s table manners because I was secretly scared I was eating things wrong (do I eat this flatbread with my hands or should I use a knife and fork?) so I used him as my guide.

In the lounge we had more drinks and shared more stories. Armanzo has had a life chock full of experience, to say the least. I bought Marcus a drink and was temporarily infatuated with one of the bartenders. We stayed until they switched off the music and turned the lights up on us.

I surprised myself a little by agreeing when Katie suggested we enjoy the night a little longer and so Marcus, Elliot, Katie and I headed to Armanzo’s friend’s new bar, Barrelhouse Flat. The place is beautiful. I am in awe. We hung out upstairs and stayed til the place shut down.

I didn’t get home til 4AM. It was totally worth it.

Quick Updates Before I Sleep

Ruth called in Thursday so instead of working 3 like I was supposed to, I was put on 1 *huge grin*
Unfortunately, that meant that Opener Armanzo had to work 3 so a lot of stuff didn’t get put away… so I had to put it away. After we broke down our stations. AND we still had to put together pork to braise. Ugh, it was a bitch. I didn’t get out of work til after 2AM… And I have to prep on Friday and Elliot/Armanzo want me to show up at 10AM. Ugh… this is gonna be a bitch. Whatever! It’s still gonna be a fun Friday, especially because I won’t be on the line. Unless Ruth calls in again >.>;;; Fingers crossed I don’t have to be on the line….

I worked 3 on Monday night and Rob and Allie Levitt (of Butcher & Larder) came in that night for their anniversary. They sat at table 4 and later on bought a bottle of sparkling wine and shared it with the staff. We toasted them. Monday was a really chill night. So chill, I don’t even remember much that went on. Geez, who was working 2 that night? Elliot? I’m not going to wrack my brains trying to figure it out.

The Poli Brothers came in to eat around 7:30pm and sat at the Chef’s Table, chatting with Armanzo. I just can’t get used to chatting with guests yet. I’m trying to work on it, but I’m not used to being sociable.

Koren’s on a long-deserved trip for a while, Elliot’s out of town until Monday. I will be working on Station 1 on Saturday and Sunday. Woohoo!

Oh, Snap!: Line Time

No time for a full entry! Look at this pretty picture!

Oh man, being on station 1 was awesome. I’d like to talk about it some more but I have to get some sleep in order to show up early to help out at a bridal shower luncheon at work tomorrow. 9:45 AM. Yeesh.
Anywho, what I looked forward to the most was the opportunity to make some tasty comida/staff meal and I’d like to think that I didn’t disappoint tonight…

Aww yeah! Made a vegetarian shepherd’s pie, using leftover mushroom bolognese (the pasta dish has changed), corn, peas, spinach, and mashed turnips/potatoes. It was pretty darn tasty (Koren-approved!), even if Elliot did add sliced prosciutto to his share. Whatever lol.

Hmm… I definitely have to get started on a COMIDA recipe page soon….


Oh, Snap!: MacGyver

No time for a full entry! Look at this pretty picture!

We make chicken stock every couple of days. We roast bones in the morning and then throw them into a stockpot with mirepoix and water and let it simmer overnight. Getting water into the pot has been a bit of a pain before; sometimes it bounces over the bones and sprays water and then you have to run it at a slower rate which takes forever. In this photo KO figured out a pretty cool way to get water into the stockpot: he leaned a saute pan and the water hits the pan and runs into the pot. Pretty sweet. That’s his hand in the picture. Good job!

The Wheel Keeps Turning

I know I haven’t been talking much about station 3 even though that’s also a prominent stage in my growth as a line cook. I apologize but I can’t help but feel this slight lack of enthusiasm for 3 as opposed to my overflowing love for station 1. I’m sure in time it’ll get better….
Anywho, I worked a Friday on 3 for the first time last week, which is a bit of a milestone. Usually I’ve been working early weekdays so when I saw my schedule that week and saw I’d been given a Thursday AND Friday to work, I thought: REALLY?! You think I’m ready for a Friday?!
But it worked out fine because of two reasons: I just kept working and no one ordered foie gras. Usually my biggest issue is not knowing what to expect in an unfamiliar environment. And that nervous anticipation just grows until it’s like an all-consuming fear. But by the time dinner rush occurs, I’ve forgotten the fear and worry. When you’ve got a lot of food to push out, there is no time to worry. So once I’m over that hurdle, I feel a lot better. My second problem is my fear or messing things up, and there’s where foie gras hits the mark. I’ve only cooked it a few times so of course I’m nervous when someone orders it. I don’t want to look like an idiot undercooking it and I sure as hell don’t want to catch flak for overcooking it *shudder*

That said, on Monday I sold a lobe and a half (broken down as 3 half-orders) of foie gras, so my foie fear is starting to go away (not that I don’t say a silent prayer for people to not order foie >_>;;;). Cooking it three times in an evening helps. It also helps that it was on a Monday as opposed to on a Friday; we weren’t so crazy busy that I could actually focus on things going on around me. It’s hard enough trying to get a cheese plate out and not under/overcooking hangar steak without also having to worry about messing up one of the most expensive pieces of animal fat known to man :/

One of these days I should probably talk about how I cook foie gras but for now, all I can say is I just remember what Armanzo once told me: you pretty much want to cook it until it feels like a boob when you touch it. Weird, but that’s the general picture.

Despite a couple of hiccups that night, KO (back from being out of town) working on 2, said I did good that night. Now the next thing I need to focus on is getting tickets out of the ticket machine (which apparently is called the “wheel”?) and speed reading.
I’m back at work on Thursday at 4pm. Until then, I hope I can keep my sickness it bay cos I hate feeling under the weather and I DO NOT want to pass it to people again….

On a happier note, unless more wrenches get thrown in the schedule, I work on 1 this Sunday. Yay! I definitely plan on working Station 1 super enthusiastically as if it was for the last time. I’ll try to make super delicious comida for everybody, too. Yeah!

In Sickness And In Health

Okay, so I didn’t get to work Station 1 for the last time like I thought I would last Sunday. Armanzo was feeling sick and couldn’t work 3 so I had to pinch hit. (He did stay to finish some prep though.) Inwardly I was disappointed because I love being on 1, but in the end it really makes no difference when work is work, and you’re needed.

I also caught whatever Armanzo had because when he left I started to feel all “blaaaahhhh” and it worsened into the evening. By the time we broke down for the night, my eyes were bleary, my sinuses were killing me, my nose would simultaneously not stop running/decongest. When I coughed, I sounded like I was going vomit. I half-seriously wanted to put myself out of my own misery. Or crack open my skull to scrape out my sinuses (sorry for the gross imagery). I think Elliot kind of took pity on me when he told me to leave the plancha for tomorrow (aside from the fact that our dishwasher was up to his ears in dirty dish/kitchenware) and that I could come into work on Monday at 6PM (or if I had to, to call in).
In retrospect I should probably have called in but in reality we’re still understaffed so it would’ve been difficult; I took medication and slept until 4PM, felt better so I took my temperature (98.7°F), pronounced myself to be alright (even though I still had a sniffly constitution) and headed to work. My aim was to get through the 6 hours and then rest myself on my days off (Tuesday and Wednesday). I’m sorry to say that I think I definitely paid it forward to Elliot because when I got to Station 3 to relieve him (he opened but was working 3 for me until I came in) he told me he was starting to feel under the weather. Urghhhh >_< Me so sorry…. I promptly gave him some of my cold medicine to try to nip it in the bud. I also repaid Bartender Rebekah's kindness in helping me plate chocolates by passing my illness on her to her too ;_;

The sickness has been going around. It started from somewhere else, but I caught it from Armanzo and definitely played my part in it by spreading it around.

You Can’t Say I Didn’t Try

I wrote up a nice entry about how I worked station 3 and how I got sick, but when I tried to publish it, wordpress decided to be a little bitch and deleted some of my paragraphs. I saw my word count go from 900+ to about 560+ and I KNOW I didn’t delete it myself.

What gives? I actually have word count restrictions or something?

Until I figure this out, or cut down on my wording (which I’d rather not do), that entry’s just gonna be hanging out and waiting.

Stupid wordpress.

Oh, Snap!: Happy Little Cocoon

No time for a full entry! Look at these pretty pictures!

Now that we’ve hired Ruth, my days on Station 1 are numbered. I looked on the schedule this week and I’m on 1 this Sunday which makes me really happy, but why do I have this feeling that it’ll be my last time on that station? ;_; Mlurfsob… I better make it last and take lots of pictures so I can make a commemorative blog entry.

Just in case that doesn’t happen, here are some line pics I took a long time ago for posterity.

This is what my station looks like when I stand a little to the left. I generally try to keep my station as neat and clean as possible. Notice those cazuelas in the corner? We’re running low on them again -_-;;;

Standing further left on my station. So neat and clean! You can see the divide because all those splotches on the counter further down are on station 2’s side. Station 2 is always a little messier because of the flour and hot dough. In case you were wondering, that’s Armanzo on 2, wearing his steel-toed velcro kitchen shoes.

And here is the view of my oven. Just looking at that fire makes you squint, right? I’m squinting just looking at this pic, so imagine how it is in front of it in real life! Oh my pretty wood fire, how I shall miss thee…. ;_; Mlurfsob!